I received this message from a reader who enjoys the blog and asked him if I could post it here. He agreed, so here it is. Some interesting thoughts on agency, accountability and the meaning of liberty.
First let me start off by saying that I am a big fan of your blog ( I found out about it a month ago) and have very much enjoyed reading your posts. They are both insightful and wickedly humorous.
I spent six years in the military and have deployed to Iraq several times and the biggest lesson I’ve learned from that experience can be summed up in one word: accountability. Everything that you do, every decision that you make has to be carefully considered because it CAN and WILL get someone killed. I also have a very low tolerance for bullshit which has enabled me to see things for the way they are rather than the way they are intended– and believe me, when it comes to modern feminism, there is no shortage of it. Why? Mostly because it is completely and utterly devoid of accountability, on every level. So I guess that would make me an anti-feminist.
*cue self-righteous gasps*
Does that mean I hate all women? Does it mean that I’m some ugly troll living in a basement who can’t get laid? Does it mean I am against women’s rights or equality? Is it perhaps a suggestion that I wish things were better back in the olden days? You know, way back when minorities and women were actually discriminated against? Hardly. In fact I don’t even fit the stereotype of a typical “anti-feminist”, a characterization that certain bloggers have colorfully illustrated as a middle aged white man suffering from an existential crisis pining for his privilege.
Sorry to disappoint you Jezebel, but that isn’t me– maybe that would make it easier to dismiss or trivialize what I am saying.
Nope. I am a 29 year-old male who is half Hispanic/half black and grew up in a low- income community and was raised by my mother, which all but guaranteed my failure as a young adult (can you say marginalized?). Thankfully that never happened, and as I type this I am pursuing a career in medicine and will one day be the first doctor in my family. I owe a lot of that success to enlisting in the military, which put me on the fast track to becoming a grown, self-actualized, responsible man. Holding myself accountable was a big part of that, but unfortunately it is also something I am seeing less of as I get older. More and more I am seeing a trend of victimhood and narcissism that has all but replaced the traditional aspects of adulthood like selflessness and accountability.
In my opinion I think accountability compliments the concept of “agency” pretty well because of its emphasis on personal responsibility. If agency is the ability to act independently ( of your own volition) then accountability is most certainly about owning those actions/choices. Although there are other issues, this seems to be the biggest one that Feminism gets wrong.
No matter how much they lobby, how much rhetoric they use, or how loudly they yell, feminists will never succeed in claiming their most coveted prize: liberty, which is the condition of being free from restriction or control. Agency is an extension of that, which also means that if you are not willing to accept the responsibility (accountability) that comes with it, then you will never be “free”.
Ironically, the people who have the best understanding of this are the ones who work in professions that require them to give up their own liberties in order to protect those that belong to others (the greater good) such as firefighters, cops, and service members. Sacrificing for the greater good is a recurring concept throughout military culture, and is part of the reason why bootcamp comes as such a shock to young men and women who have never thought of anyone other than themselves– for the first time in their lives they are actually being held accountable for their actions, especially when those actions can adversely impact everyone else.
For the sake of clarity I will refer to this guy as Mr. Forgetful:
On my second deployment we had been in country for about a week when Mr. Forgetful forgot that he had left his rifle leaning against a HUMVEE, unattended. A fact that had been made known to us by our platoon commander after he found it himself. We were promptly punished and soon found ourselves filling sandbags in the sweltering heat. After we were done, our commander gave us a speech about teamwork and accountability. While Mr. Forgetful was the one who messed up, we were also responsible since we failed to look out for him. An error that we fixed later that evening.
Amongst ourselves we issued Mr. Forgetful one simple mandate: for the next week he would have his rifle strapped to his body. Whether he was sleeping, eating, or taking a dump, he would be expected to have it in his possession at all times. If any one of us found him without it, a swift ass kicking would follow.
To an outsider this may appear harsh, but to anyone who has spent time in the military, what we did was not only appropriate, it was necessary. What if the rifle had fallen into the wrong hands? What if Mr. Forgetful had left something far more critical behind such as a grenade round or a document that had our radio frequencies on it? One mistake can compromise an entire mission.
Needless to say he never left his weapon unattended again, and we never had to kick his ass, but most importantly we learned a valuable lesson: If we wanted to get through our deployment in one piece, then we were going to have to learn to operate as a team and look out for each other. There was no room to play victim, no advantage to gain by pointing fingers, and certainly no time to worry about hurt feelings. Either you live or your die. It was really that simple.
Everywhere you go in the military, there is some variation of this lesson but the end result is still the same: everyone understands that they are accountable for their actions, regardless of gender. Is it any wonder then, that many women in the armed forces do not consider themselves modern feminists? Even more interesting is that they are also the first ones to admit that men and women are not interchangeable, especially in the infantry. To them this seems like common sense, but to a feminist, it is another antiquated practice that needs to be *cough reformed* modernized. Ironically the ones who probably won’t find themselves in the middle of a fire fight or in the path of a mortar round, seem to be the ones who are also the most outspoken about interchangeability, while the ones who have the most insight see things in a more realistic light.
Political correctness and good intentions do not win wars– strong, skilled, and efficient warriors do.
Carl Von Clausewitz once said “War is a continuation of politics by other means.” Ever notice how the ideas of War and Politics never seem to overlap in that statement? That’s because no matter how well versed you are with 19th century philosophy, all of the Von Clausewitz in the world is not going to save you when the bullets start flying. There is a point, where debate becomes ineffective and violence is necessary. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why feminism has no place in formulating military policy– women aren’t in the infantry because they are subjugated or oppressed. It’s because on average, they have less upper body strength than men. Why is that an important consideration? Consider this: how is a female who weighs 150 pounds (wearing a flak jacket with a full battle load) going to be able to move a 180 pound male with 100 pounds of gear to safety while bullets and mortars are blowing up around her? Oh AND he has arterial bleeding thanks to a bullet that nicked his femoral artery when he was shot. There is no doubt that she could do it, but the question is would she be able to do it before he bled out? When put in that perspective, it becomes abundantly clear that making men and women interchangeable in the military is a very bad and potentially dangerous idea.
It is also one of the fundamental reasons why I disagree with modern Feminism. Not particularly because I consider their movement anti-male, but mostly because they only seem to be interested aligning themselves with likeminded ideologues while casting out critics and skeptics that would otherwise bring a much-needed perspective to a never ending manifesto of patriarchal oppression. A movement that vilifies the opposite sex while vehemently rejecting opposing viewpoints in my opinion is the very definition of bigotry. It is hard for me to believe that Feminists want social/political/ and academic equality when they enthusiastically lobby for legislation that exclusively benefit women while remaining largely silent on the ones that adversely affect men.
Agency and accountability go hand in hand– take one away and the other ceases to exist. Feminists may want agency, but they are not willing to accept accountability, or if they do, selectively apply it when it is convenient. Why take responsibility when there is always some “boogieman” that you can pin the blame on? That boogieman can come in the form of rape culture, the gender pay gap, benevolent sexism, or my personal favorite- the patriarchy. All of these issues are vague and have no specific underlying cause, yet for these reasons and many others, feminists have largely succeeded in convincing American women that they are systematically oppressed. This contradicts the whole idea of agency, since on some level it requires accountability, and so the plight of women, much like an endless game of whack-a-mole, becomes a practice in futility. That is not agency, and that is not liberty, and so long as feminists continue to behave in that manner, they will never be “free” from the invisible barriers that supposedly hold them back.
Thank you, J. Twitter may think they are pleasing their customers by censoring any criticism of feminism, but in the real world, almost everyone can see it’s a crock of shit.
Have you seen this? What word do Time readers want banned?
Couldn’t agree more.
Lots of love,